Earlier today, Founder and CEO Matthew Gross shared the following email with Newsela employees:
I shared in our All-Hands meeting earlier today that we are reducing our staff by 14%. Each person who will lose their job is someone who I know has brought passion and dedication to our mission every day. This was an extremely difficult decision. I am deeply sorry that we have to do this, and for the personal impact it will have. I want to offer some context of how we got to this decision today.
When the pandemic hit, traditional classrooms became digital experiences overnight and teachers needed to find ways to connect with their students remotely. Education technology became a lifeline for schools, making teaching possible during a moment of crisis. The federal government released emergency funding and the market experienced unprecedented growth. As a company, we experienced rapidly accelerated growth and hired aggressively to meet the market need.
As schools reopened, their technology needs changed. No longer needing tools for remote instruction, school districts began to take the time to better understand how education technology fits into a social classroom and aligns with their learning goals, which have become more pronounced as they reckon with the impact of the pandemic on student learning. Teachers moved from screens to focusing on human interactions and building critical skills that we know are foundational to learning, like relationship building and communication. In response to this shift in the market, our company’s growth slowed.
This shift was not unexpected, but we did underestimate the timing and magnitude with which it occurred. For that, I take full responsibility. Our operating costs and headcount no longer align with our growth rate and we must make the painful decision to rightsize our teams.
Education experienced warp-speed technology adoption. It will take time for the impact of the transition from paper-based materials to digital solutions to be fully realized. We are realigning our strategy to ensure we are well-positioned today and for the future. Our go-to-market efforts will be leaner as we focus on continuing to build the products that will bring our mission to life. We’ll be sharing more about our strategy in the coming days and weeks, but today we are focused on supporting those who are leaving.
By 1pm ET, those affected will receive an invite for a meeting today with their team leader and People Partner. These meetings will be individual conversations to explain severance package and exit details and answer any questions that might come up.
The ELT and I have committed to support our colleagues through this transition, and to do so with as much care and respect as possible:
We are providing up to 14 weeks of salary, based on tenure and level.
We are also covering the costs of COBRA throughout the duration of the severance period.
All departing Newselites will be allowed to keep their laptop and other tech devices.
We have partnered with an outplacement agency to provide resume writing, interview preparation, and other job search support.
We will be offering all impacted individuals the opportunity to be included in a public-facing list that folks can share with their networks to help everyone find their next landing place.
As CEO, I take responsibility for the events leading up to this decision. People join Newsela with a desire to make a difference in education. So many of you who are departing have invested your whole heart into our company’s mission and success, so I know you’re losing more than just a job. This is a painful moment. Please know I am deeply grateful for everything you have helped us build here and for everything you have done in service of meaningful classroom learning for every student.